Why do you attend the church of which you are a member? Is it because your father and mother before you were members of that church? Is it because your husband or wife belongs to that particular religious body? What if Christ, through His Word, the New Testament, demanded one thing, and the church of your family said to do something else? Whom would you follow? Jesus declared: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26).
Does this mean I must literally despise the father who provided my needs when I was helpless and gave me the teaching and guidance to become a Christian? Must I turn against my mother who endangered her own life to bring me into this world and selflessly nursed and cared for me in childhood? Must I forsake my own wife who left a secure home to be my companion and bear my children? Must I loathe my little children, any one of whom I would readily lay down my own life to protect? Must I hate my very own brother in the flesh who was my constant companion as a child? Of course the Bible demands the exact opposite attitude toward my own family. In fact, no son ever demonstrated greater love for his mother than did the Son of Mary, who, while in the agony of impending death, made provision for the care of His mother after He was gone (Jn 19:26, 27). Yet, he did not allow the love of his mother to exceed the love he had for his heavenly Father, and neither can we.
What is the meaning of this condition of discipleship? In Genesis 29:30 the inspired writer Moses observed of Jacob, “he loved also Rachel more than Leah.” Moses then declared, “the Lord saw that Leah was hated” (verse 31). Leah was “hated” in that she was loved less than was Rachel. This is precisely the sense in which we are to hate our families. As Jesus warned: “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:3). The same illustration could be made from Abraham who was willing to kill his son Isaac in order to obey God (Gen 22:12).
Jesus Christ warned that if you do not love Him more than you love father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, you cannot be His disciple. One proves his love for Christ by obeying Him (Jn 14:15). We must, even as Moses did, “…choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb 11:24-26). “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 10:37-39). If you follow the religion of your family in disregard to the Word of Christ, you are not a disciple of Christ. If you refuse to correct a family member who are in biblical error because you love the praise of them more than the praise of God, you can’t be a disciple of Christ (Jn 12:43). Persecution for the cause of Christ is the cross of every Christian, even if it means losing a family member (2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16).